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Special Project
From the 9th Annual Shorty Awards

How Visit Philly Launched A New Social Media Platform To Showcase Philadelphia In A Snap

Entered in Travel & Tourism


VISIT PHILADELPHIA® is our name and our mission. As the region's official tourism marketing agency, we build Greater Philadelphia's image, drive visitation and boost the economy.

Over the years, VISIT PHILADELPHIA—known to social media fans and followers as Visit Philly—has made a name for itself as a social media pioneer, leading the destination marketing industry into new platforms. Snapchat presented an exciting new territory that was largely untapped by the travel industry, according to a recent report from Adweek.

Visit Philly saw this as an opportunity to:

- Diversify our image-building and visual storytelling on social media

- Interact with a fresh audience and develop a new type of influencer

- Create opportunities for fans and followers to engage with the city and the content simultaneously

Strategy and Execution


Snapchat's popularity lies in the fact that it's informal, unpolished and authentic. It's a platform that's truly social and isn't measured by conversion rates or click-throughs. Visit Philly capitalized on the platform's relationship-building capabilities in an effort to humanize our brand.

Our main strategies were to:

- Deliver raw, exclusive content in real-time for an organic experience

- Develop a personality that allows for humor and establish a familiar personality viewers can identify with

- Leverage Snapchat's story feature to celebrate Philadelphia's diverse events, neighborhoods, culture and people


Visit Philly began by defining styles of stories to produce—from exclusive tours to special announcements—and eventually evolved the strategy to mobilize fans and followers during face-to-face Snapchat meetups.

Our tactics:

- Give insider views of attractions and exhibits by hosting tours, such as a sneak peek inside of a robotics exhibit at the world-renowned Franklin Institute

- Adapt our guest Instagram takeover program to Snapchat by introducing new social media leaders with fresh perspectives, such as Philadelphia influencer Albert Lee (@urphillypal)

- Provide incentives, such as giving away tickets to a sold-out party to the first viewer to send a Snap back to Visit Philly's account and revealing ticket codes through Snapchat stories that would allow viewers free access to special events

What Makes Our Work Unique:

Most recently, Visit Philly has helped encourage visitation to Philadelphia through creative real-time engagement on Snapchat. For example, Visit Philly hosted three Snapchat meetups over the summer that were tied to the popular video game Pokémon GO. We promoted the live meetups across channels, where we asked fans to follow along on Snapchat to find details on the time and place of the meetup. Visit Philly gave attendees branded phone chargers and Pokémon GO lures, and together, roughly 50 visitors explored the city with the social media team to play the popular game.

Guests consumed the content on Snapchat and jumped into the live production with us to become part of the story. They also shared their own content on their personal channels.

Attendees not only happily appeared in our social media posts and created their own content for their friends, family, fans and followers, but they went one step further. They spent their own money on food, drinks and other items at the restaurants and attractions where we hosted these events—infusing money into local business and helping to support part of our mission, to boost the economy.


Visit Philly's new way to showcase the city through innovative storytelling techniques has proven successful:

- Since we officially launched the account on June 16, our stories receive nearly five times as many views—with our last story reaching 1,343 views. To date, our stories have received more than 61,500 views since launch (more than 7.4 million views if we count views of Visit Philly Snaps that have been included in Snapchat Live Stories).

- Visit Philly's Snapchat account has been featured in Ad Week, The Philadelphia Business Journal and Skift.

The attendees of Snapchat meetups have emerged as a new type of influencer. While many consumers start to see traditional influencer posts as overly promotional, the social posts that come out of meetups are more authentic, albeit to a smaller audience.

This is a sample from a testimonial of a participant: "I just wanted to reach out and say thank you to the team that put the Pokèstop meet up together… You had an amazing team of people with great energy. That's the type of representation our city needs. Made me want to quit my job at Google and join the team. Keep up the great work, we can't wait for the next one! Also my fiancé and girls also had an amazing time and my daughter was so happy to see herself on Snapchat."


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